Elon Musk’s ‘SNL’ hosting gig was a ratings hit despite controversy

on May12
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The decision by “Saturday Night Live” to bring on controversial host Elon Musk paid off for the popular sketch series, sending ratings skyrocketing. 

The SpaceX and Tesla founder being tapped for the coveted hosting position sparked controversy among both viewers and cast members, many of whom felt the show was celebrating a man for his exorbitant wealth in a time of income inequality. Rumors even circulated that cast members were considering not appearing in the episode with him.

However, it seems the controversy didn’t dampen anyone’s desire to see what Musk would do. In fact, it seems it heightened attention on the show. Last weekend’s episode averaged 7.3 million viewers, making it the third most-watched episode for the season behind the ones hosted by Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock, according to Nielsen figures.

A good outcome for the billionaire’s first time hosting “SNL,” although reviews of his attempts at comedy ranged from charitable to meh.

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Elon Musk hosted the May 8, 2021 episode of 'Saturday Night Live.'

Elon Musk hosted the May 8, 2021 episode of ‘Saturday Night Live.’
(Will Heath/NBC)

The biggest pan, however, may be the response to jokes mocking the cryptocurrency dogecoin, for which Musk actually has been a steadfast booster: In the hour after the show started, dogecoin’s already volatile price fell 23% and bounced up and down the following day.

“Saturday Night Live” included an opening exchange between Musk and his mother, who grimaced when he said that dogecoin would be her Mother’s Day gift, and an “Update” bit in which Musk appeared as a faux financial analyst, Lloyd Ostertag.

Anchor Michael Che reacts to Ostertag’s convoluted description of dogecoin as the future of currency with deep skepticism, calling it a “hustle.” Musk in character echoes the sentiment: “Yeah, it’s a hustle.”

Other sketches included Musk as the doctor at a hospital for Gen Z people, which was criticized by viewers for borrowing slang from African American Vernacular English (AAVE). The backlash prompted Che, the sketch’s writer, to respond to the backlash on Twitter. 

In prime-time last week, CBS was the most-watched network with an average 4.8 million viewers. NBC had 3.2 million, ABC had 3 million, Fox had 2.3 million, Univision had 1.3 million and Telemundo had 960,000.

Fox News Channel topped the cable networks, averaging 2.1 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 1.5 million, HGTV had 1.2 million and CNN had 907,000.

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ABC’s “World News Tonight” was first in the evening news ratings contest, averaging 7.95 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 6.46 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 4.86 million.

For the week of May 3-9, the top 20 programs, their networks and viewerships:

1. “NCIS,” CBS, 8.68 million.

2. “FBI,” CBS, 8.06 million.

3. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 7.78 million.

4. “The Equalizer,” CBS, 7.224 million.

5. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.221 million.

6. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 7.09 million.

7. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 6.64 million.

8. “911,” Fox, 5.91 million.

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Elon Musk's 'SNL' hosting gig was a hit in the ratings. 

Elon Musk’s ‘SNL’ hosting gig was a hit in the ratings. 
(Rosalind O’Connor/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

9. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 5.87 million.

10. “American Idol,” ABC, 5.74 million.

11. “Chicago P.D.,” NBC. 5.69 million.

12. “The Voice,” NBC, 5.64 million.

13. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 5.60 million.

14. “Bull,” CBS, 5.53 million.

15. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 4.89 million.

16. “Mom,” CBS, 5.29 million.

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17. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 5.19 million.

18. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 5.11 million.

19. “Magnum, P.I.,” CBS, 5 million.

20. “NCIS: new Orleans,” CBS, 4.96 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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